Subscribe for 33¢ / day

YANKTON, S.D. -- When hundreds of archers from all over the world converge on Yankton in a couple weeks, they'll be greeted by probably an even larger number of volunteers.

Not that big of a surprise.

When you host an event the magnitude of the World Archery Indoor Championships, you're going to need a small army of volunteers to successfully pull it off. And like they did when the NFAA Easton Archery Center here hosted the World Archery Youth Championships in 2015, area residents are turning out to welcome the world to Yankton.

"I've already taken a week off of work," said Connie Miles, who drove a school bus transporting athletes to and from their hotels and the archery center in 2015 and plans to do so again during this tournament, which runs Feb. 14-19 and will attract 300-400 competitors from at least 33 countries.

Drivers pick up athletes at the airport in Sioux Falls and bring them to Yankton. Dozens more will serve as greeters and work at information desks at hotels. There will be parking attendants, food service and concessions volunteers and more. Volunteers with archery backgrounds help run score sheets and change targets during the competition.

In all, there are more than 1,000 volunteer shifts to fill, and many volunteers will obviously work more than one. Nancy Wenande, public relations director at the archery center, didn't sound worried when asked if she'd have enough workers.

"We're getting a steady flow of volunteers filling the shifts," Wenande said.

She knows she's got people on hand like Miles, as well as Gene and Mary Ellen Hornstra, local residents who had such a great time volunteering at the 2015 world championship event that they volunteered again.

In 2015, Gene, who classifies himself as an amateur archer, helped set up targets during the competition. Mary Ellen volunteered in food service. Both will reprise those roles for the upcoming championships. Gene says he's got it easy when it comes to volunteer jobs. It's harder to help feed hundreds of competitors every day or drive them from Point A to Point B.

"I looked at the list of jobs people could volunteer for, and it's everything," Gene Hornstra said. "My job is the fun part of it. Those other people, they're doing it because they want to, but they're tougher jobs."

Miles, a bus driver for the Yankton school district for 17 years, wouldn't call it all work. Yes, she'll be busy, but if this world championship tournament is anything like the last one here, it should be a good time.

"It was really a great experience to meet the different kids, people from different countries. It was great to show off our town," Miles said.

Hornstra, too, used his volunteer experience to meet people from different backgrounds and cultures. Volunteers like himself can be vital to making the tournament a pleasant experience "just by being a good, friendly host and going the extra mile to do anything possible," he said.

And for those who compete in archery or have any interest in it, volunteering is a great way to get an up-close look at some of the best archers in the world.

"It's extraordinarily convenient to have this caliber of archery about two miles from my house. It's a world-class event," Hornstra said. "I'm kind of a casual observer, but it is fantastic we have this facility here."

Organizers have spent the past nine months getting ready for the tournament, Wenande said. They've cast a wide net for volunteers and other sponsors to make the event a success. The experience from 2015 has helped, just as this year's work will pay off in 2020, when Yankton will host the World Archery Field Championships.

By then, they'll have a core group of volunteers such as Miles ready to step forward again.

"I think Yankton's got a lot to offer, so I hope we can keep offering these tournaments," Miles said. "They do a really wonderful job putting these on."

A job made easier by the hundreds of people who turn out to help.


Court reporter

Load comments